Sunset found Harriet all crouched up next to one of the bins in the recreational park that had become her new abode. It was her way of calling dibs on whatever was in the bin and she was waiting for nightfall so that she could ransack without getting embarrassed. She hoped that she would never have to make the streets her home but every sunset that found her homeless reminded her that maybe it was time to let go. Even when she was almost certain that the situation would not improve, she was not able to reconcile the unsightliness of street life and the house she called home for most of her life. She was yet to take in the drastic change of livelihood and though she refrained from cogitating about it, she knew that she would not run for too long.

It had only been a fortnight since Harriet’s family got kicked out of their house and it was arguably the worst time of her life. She was only 10 but being the eldest child of a sickly mother and an inebriated father, she was expected to fend for her younger brother and sister who were 6 and 3 respectively. She had been lucky enough to get plenty of food remains to take to her family who were camping on the balcony of a building under construction on the first week. The second week however saw them get thrown out of the construction building and they moved their cutlery and beddings to a spot under a bridge. Homeless people camped there once in a while especially when it rained so it was no shock when they found all their belongings missing on the day after. The man of the house had gone out drinking on the night they were thrown out and had not been seen since. Harriet’s mother was battling with pneumonia and Harriet could only hope that the flu would not take a toll on her siblings.

Although Harriet shivered at the thought of the dangers that street life exposed her to, especially at night, nightfall implied that she was learning how to survive. Days were really hard on her because she had not grown up knowing how to beg or have to ask for even the most basic needs since they had always been provided albeit with difficulty. In addition, the older street kids had priority over bins during the day so she was getting used to staying hungry all day. What pained her most was that she was not able to take anything to her family and they solely depended on her efforts. She had tried to politely ask for meals or money from passersby but she had been brushed off so rudely that she did not think it was worth the struggle.

She looked at the dark grey nimbus clouds and remembered the storm that had rocked the town on the past two nights and she felt a warm tear flow down her visage. The clouds stared back threateningly but she crossed her fingers hoping that it wouldn’t rain. She had not eaten much in three days and she was too weak to walk to the bridge and check on her family. She was not even sure they were still at the bridge and she did not want to prove her fears right by going. The bin she had dibs on did not have anything of value except a pizza pack which she filled with sand and grass to make a pillow.  She then neatened her sleeping spot under the public bench and rested her head on the pillow pack hoping that the vipers would spare her life and that murderers or thieves or rapists would not find her. Really, she just hoped that she would catch some sleep and forget her worries for a while, and that she would be alive and well when the sun rose the following day. And bridges, bins and benches were her food, shelter and sometimes clothing and they were what she thanked God for before she closed her eyes and wandered into slumber-land.